Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fake Plastic Fish Wants YOU To Join the Plastic Posse

The other day one of my favoritist bloggers, Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish fame and fortune asked the masses to come join her in her plastic free world. Basically, I think she was feeling a little lonely blogging about plastic, and wanted some blogging company.

I can sympathize. Well I can't really, since everyone talks about non-consumerism, which was kind of my pet project last year. But I can empathize? 

Anyway, point being, Beth posed some questions to us about plastic to get the plastic-conversation going.

So, here are her questions and my responses:

1) What was it that first inspired you to eliminate plastic from your life? Was it a particular issue? News article? Experience? And when was this?

To be honest, I think Fake Plastic Fish has been my greatest inspiration to remove the scourge of plastic from my life! I also was deeply influenced by Elizabeth Royte, writer of Garbage Land, which, once again, if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for? I read Garbage Land last January, and FPF started being on my daily blog rotation around the same time, so it was really a combination of reading both that has made me drastically reduce my plastic usage.

2) What have been the 1-3 easiest changes to make?
The first change I made was before I even read anything about plastic really ... the obvious reusable bag instead of plastic bag change. The other changes I've made that were relatively easy? Let's see... well giving up the plastic water bottles. That was kind of a no-brainer, though I admit, the unintended consequence has been that I do drink less water than I used to. Bad Ruchi. Those were probably the only "easy" changes. I did end up using a lot less plastic in my year of non-consumerism, because as lot of plastic waste is in packaging, and if you're not buying, you avoid the packaging thang too. So that was sort of a bonus of the non-consumerism year. But really, other than that, I would probably say the other changes have been fairly difficult for me.

3) What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Definitely packaging for food and drink. I do really well with home-prepared food. I have my bulk food store where I buy my pasta and rice and beans. I re-use bread bags for produce. I buy stuff I can't buy in reusable containers in glass (my bulk store doesn't have bulk peanut butter, but the organic store down the street sells peanut butter in glass.) But being a student, I don't have much in the way of routine. So I'll often find myself at school at 5pm not having eaten anything all day for whatever reason. So I end up buying a sandwich in plastic wrap. I don't love it, and I wish I was a better planner, but I'm definitely finding it difficult to transition between working adult with a routine and a fridge and microwave at my office to hobo student who spends hours in the library and then realizes she's starving.

4) What one thing would you say to encourage others to lessen their plastic consumption?
Treat it like a game, or an adventure. One of the games I like to play is, can I get rid of my one-time use plastic this week? So I focus on a specific area, and then work on that. It also makes you creative in how you can re-use your plastic. I reuse my bread bags as produce bags (actually I don't anymore because I am buying bread not wrapped in plastic, but I used to.) Cereal bags have tons of purposes. I'm not as hard core as Fake Plastic Fish, so for me, the key is, I don't want to be using something once, and then chucking it. If I can at least get a few uses out of it, and spare some additional plastic, to me that's good progress. As for durable plastic, well, here's the non-consumer coming out: buy it used! I'm not opposed to plastic completely. Want a plastic DVD? Fine, but go get it used!

Well, those are my answers, but let's hear from the rest of you! Have you started to reduce plastic consumption in your house? What do you find easy, and what do you find difficult? And for more tips to reduce plastic, visit Fake Plastic Fish!


Anonymous said...

Go Ruchi!

You wrote: I did end up using a lot less plastic in my year of non-consumerism, because as lot of plastic waste is in packaging, and if you're not buying, you avoid the packaging thang too.

That's funny because I had the same experience in reverse. AFTER giving up plastic, I tried a buy nothing challenge month and found it very easy because when you're not buying new plastic, there's very little you can buy new at all!

I totally agree with you on buying used durable plastic. When my computer monitor died, I replaced it with a used one from a guy on Craigslist. Works great. Cost less. And saves new plastic.

And yes, I want company so I don't feel like a little lonely plastic-free freak. Anyone else joining the ranks?!? All you need to do is label your plastic-related posts "plastic" like Ruchi did and then let me know!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and about the fortune... haven't seen it. Are you hiding it somewhere?

hmd said...

We've made a huge dent in our plastic as well. We buy bulk when available, I refuse to buy grapes because our store only has then in plastic containers, I quit using commercial deodorant because of the containers, I carry my own water bottle and utensil to restaurants that have disposables, etc. My hubby has even started carrying his own water bottle (this is a HUGE step). I'm very proud of him!

There's so many ways to cut plastic - they are too many to name, but if we take them one by one, we can end up making a HUGE dent.

Green Bean said...

Plastic Ocean was huge for me. If people haven't read that article and looked at those pictures, they are a wake up call.

Beth has a great list of plastic free sources for stuff like recycled TP, shampoo, etc.

Not buying all the new toys and stuff eliminated a lot of plastic from our lives. I do all the stuff that you do. As I'm not a student and home full time, I also try to make my own yogurt, snacks and stuff. Another option is to buy snacks for the kids in the biggest possible container and then divy up into small containers for lunches, etc. That's another great way to ditch the plastic - waste free lunch packaged in reusable (albeit plastic) containers.

EJ said...

In my personal life I've used very little plastic for a long time. We're faithful recyclers and bulk shoppers. All food from scratch (is there any other way?). Never got into plastic water bottles, or cosmetics.
Craigslist, yard sales etc don't work in sparsely populated rural areas. So we just do without a lot of things for now.

But...we have a small plant nursery. Plastic greenhouses, plastic pots. We reuse pots and bought pots made of either UV resistant or recycled plastic. Will recycle plastic as it ages. But in this business there is no getting away from plastic.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I switched from shower gel to soap, made by a local(ish) couple who sell the soap at the ferry terminal during the summer (just stocked up for the winter on our last trip!). I need to find a good shampoo bar now.

I keep a metal water bottle and insulated mug on my desk and remember to take them with me almost all the time. I have a stash of canvas shopping bags at home and at work... what else, um, well I bought some new socks this week and they came with like 6 plastic clips attached. I'm planning to send them back to the company saying "please reuse these".

It's a start!

Joyce said...

I never had gotten into the water bottle thing, but the easiest change to make was shopping bags. Like you, I also try to avoid one-use plastic items, and reuse things as many times as I can. I would agree with GB, Plastic Ocean, which I saw through Beth's blog, was an important motivator for me. I don't see the ocean from here, but I can only assume we have trash like that in our freshwater lakes and rivers, and it has to be just as harmful. I think we recycle more than ever, as well. It's a gradual process, but if I look back a year or so, I can see that we have come a long way.

Anonymous said...

okay, okay, okay. I solemnly swear to remember to bring a knife and fork to work by next Tues at the latest so that I stop using the plastic forks for lunch. I'm already good on the bottles and cups, but I've been putting this one off.


Amber said...

Stumbling across this incredible site by a woman named Helle Jorgensen, who crochets the most amazing things out of plastic bags, to raise awareness of the trash vortex, was one of the first things to inspire me to try and reduce my own plastic use, and to try crocheting with plastic!

Anonymous said...

And Megan, if you forget to bring your knife and fork to work, just wash and reuse the plastic ones you already have!


Anonymous said...

I just washed the ones from today! Duh, Megan! This is why we need you Beth...

Something else I do at work (besides read your blogs) is throw all of my garbage in the kitchen trash can, so they don't have to replace the plastic liner every night in the one under my desk. (The paper goes in the recycle.)


ruchi said...

FPF, I don't know where the fortune is. I'm a poor college student! ;)

Heather, I agree. Taking them one by one is the important thing!!

GB, ah yes, Plastic Ocean is a pretty traumatic, but important, article. Thanks for bringing it to everyone's attention.

EJ, sounds like you have it down in terms of your personal life!!

Cath, yes, the soap gel to bar switch. I forgot about that, that's another fairly easy one. I actually use my soap bar for my hair! (Don't tell anyone.)

Joyce, you are right. It is a gradual process. Like you, I've eliminated a lot of things slowly to the point where I don't even realize how much I've done until I go back and look.

Fix, DOOOO EEEET!! DOOOOO EEEEEET! No, I know what you mean. I am so damn disorganized sometimes. I wish I were more on top of everything.

Amber, thanks for the site. I'll check it out!!

Kelly S. said...

Lets see...i'm not that hardcore, and if I make any more "hippie" changes at our house right now my boyfriend is going to strangle me. But I take me recycling to the recycling center, I shop with reusable bags, I bring my coffee in a traveller everyday, I use my own water bottle, I buy in bulk whenever I can. I do use plastic, but I try to use the same piece a lot to cut down on the quantity. I wouldnt say that I would not buy something b/c it is in plastic, but I do what I can. I think a lot of these things help a lot with my budget and that is partly why i do them.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Thanks for the tip on the bread bags!

I cloth bag and Klean Kanteen, and I started buying a lot more used stuff, and stopped buying plastic enclosed greens (growing our own now).

I need to go check out fpf's site for more tips.